The Honda CB650R has been a part of the Japanese automaker’s lineup for a decade, and its role has transformed from flagship 650CC to the last of its kind. With the puff piece info, Honda is pitching this new edition of the roadster as a distilled bike that gives you a minimal experience in which less is more. In a world with so many gadgets and tech to dazzle you, it’s a refreshing change.
This model also marks possibly the last of a dying breed of bikes powered by a straight-four engine, which is something Honda introduced to a mainstream level in 1969. In the new era of emission-conscious motoring, the industry seems to be moving away from this incredible engine construction. The Honda CB650R presents something of a last hurrah.
Sporting a neo-sports cafe aesthetic, the Honda CB650R strikes a balance between modernity and retro charm. The single full-LED headlight, accentuated with a black bezel, exudes a sharp character, and gold-painted pistons and bodywork flairs lend an air of luxury that doesn’t appear gauche. With the matte paintwork, it instead underscores the bike’s understated elegance.
Powered by a 650CC straight-four engine, the Honda CB650R might not leave you breathless with its acceleration, but it promises an exhilarating experience once it hits its stride. The roar of the 1200RPM engine on open roads is nothing short of electrifying, backed by a sharp throttle response devoid of lag or snatch. Weighing in at 202kg, it feels solid without being cumbersome. The radial brakes are efficient, and while the bike boasts basic traction control, it's a nod to the times when biking was about the raw connection between the rider and the road. The straight-four engine may be the last in its lineage, but there’s nothing like the power of it at your fingertips and the subsequent feeling of maturity.
The CB650R is agile and slots in seamlessly, though larger riders might find it a tad small. The footpegs are placed comfortably, not too high. The seat contours perfectly, adjusting to the rider's weight and offering a plush experience. The ride leans more towards sporty with good manoeuvrability in corners. It’s reminiscent of the Honda CB1000, which is certainly good company to be in.
Even the practical amenities tow the line between modern with a classic attitude. The LCD speedometer screen, combined with the phone and dashcam dock, might seem cluttered, but the fact it can handle all these at once is a blessing in disguise. Plus, there’s a dedicated button to turn off the traction control, for when you want to get a bit naughty on the empty country roads. Now the option is easier than ever.
The Honda CB650R beautifully marries the legacy of the straight-four engine with contemporary needs. With a sound like no other, this is a bike for those looking to relive a golden era of biking.
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